Plath, Sylvia

sylvia plath

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was a gifted writer of poetry and fiction whose life ended all too soon. Triggered by the death of her father when she was eight years old, a deep-rooted depression took root and led to a life of struggle. She made no pretense about the degree of her pain in her writings. Plath’s poetry is part of the “confessional movement,” frank and revelatory about her personal life and innermost thoughts.

As her depression deepened, her family and success weren’t enough to keep her from taking her own life. She was only thirty, and had two small children. After her death, more of her work was released, and continues to be widely studied writings. Colossus was the only work published during her life, and her Collected Poems, edited and published by her husband Ted Hughes after her death, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982.

Fascination Facts about Sylvia Plath

  • Plath loved to make Lemon Meringue Pie. Apparently, it was very delicious!

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Sylvia Plath Quotes

“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.”

“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end.”

“We should meet in another life, we should meet in the air, me and you.”

“Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.”

“Then I decided I would spend the summer writing a novel. That would fix a lot of people.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

“I have done, this year, what I said I would: overcome my fear of facing a blank page day after day, acknowledging myself, in my deepest emotions, a writer, come what may.”

“I am jealous of those who think more deeply, who write better, who draw better, who ski better, who look better, who live better, who love better than I.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“What I fear most, I think, is the death of the imagination.”

“I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“To look at her, you might not guess that inside she is laughing and crying, at her own stupidities and luckiness, and at the strange enigmatic ways of the world which she will spend lifetime trying to learn and understand.”

“I like people too much or not at all. I’ve got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn’t say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”

“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.” (Aerial: The Restored Addition, 2004)

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“I talk to God but the sky is empty.”

“I want to write because I have the urge to excel in one medium of translation and expression of life. I can’t be satisfied with the colossal job of merely living. Oh, no, I must order life in sonnets and sestinas and provide a verbal reflector for my 60-watt lighted head.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“I write only because, There is a voice within me, That will not be still.”

“I must be lean & write & make worlds beside this to live in.”

“I felt wise and cynical as all hell.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“It was my first big chance, but here I was, sitting back and letting it run through my fingers like so much water.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“I have stitched life into me like a rare organ.”

“I saw the days of the year stretching ahead like a series of bright, white boxes, and separating one box from another was sleep, like a black shade. Only for me, the long perspective of shades that set off one box from the next day had suddenly snapped up, and I could see day after day after day glaring ahead of me like a white, broad, infinitely desolate avenue.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”

“Here I am, a bundle of past recollections and future dreams, knotted up in a reasonably attractive bundle of flesh. I remember what this flesh has gone through; I dream of what it may go through.”

“Why do we electrocute men for murdering an individual and then pin a purple heart on them for mass slaughter of someone arbitrarily labeled “enemy?””

“Is there no way out of the mind?”

“So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.”

“Because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which fits best and is more becoming?”

“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.”

“…What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don’t know and I’m afraid. I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“You cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“I took a deep breath, and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“If I have a dry spell…I wait and live harder, eyes, ears, and heart open, and when the productive time comes, it is that much richer.”

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.”

“Good to know that if I ever need attention all I have to do is die.”

“If they substituted the word ‘Lust’ for ‘Love’ in the popular songs it would come nearer the truth.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“Sometimes I feel so stupid and dull and uncreative that I am amazed when people tell me differently.”

“I am so busy keeping my head above water that I scarcely know who I am, much less who anyone else is.”

“I have the choice of being constantly active and happy, or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“And when at last you find someone to whom you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter- they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept inside the small, cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship – but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“Character is fate.”

“I want to taste glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of non-feeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and to think; to think and to live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight new understanding, and new love.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“Perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”

“I was supposed to be having the time of my life.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“I am still so naïve; I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don’t ask me who I am. A passionate, fragmentary girl, maybe?”

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.”

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“”Mad Girl’s Love Song”
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)” (The Collected Poems, 1982)


“The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“I must get my soul back from you; I am killing my flesh without it.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“Life has been some combination of fairy-tale coincidence and joie de vivre and shocks of beauty together with some hurtful self-questioning.” (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1982)

“I want to be important. By being different. And these girls are all the same.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.” (The Bell Jar, 1963)



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